Three keys to WKU winning at UK

Jonathan Lintner

1. Relief for Rainey

Head Coach Willie Taggart said this week he doesn’t plan on giving junior running back Bobby Rainey 30 carries like he did against Nebraska. Knowing that, someone will have to step up. But statistically, nobody has proven he can pick up the slack.

WKU’s two-deep depth chart lists junior running back Braxston Miller second. Miller, after converting from linebacker last season, carried the ball three times for eight yards all season. Junior running back Avery Hibbitt should also figure to get some carries this season, which would be the first of his career.

2. More than tackling

Yes, the Toppers blamed tackling for their defensive woes against Nebraska. But sometimes the Huskers exposed more than arm tackles and weak hits as problems with WKU’s defense.

Take, for instance, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez’s first touchdown run last Saturday. He pranced 46 yards on the Huskers’ third play from scrimmage completely untouched. Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead went 21 yards — about 19 of those untouched — before falling into the endzone to make it 14-0. So it wasn’t only tackling. It was missed assignments, too.

3. Don’t give in to the atmosphere

It doesn’t matter if Kentucky hosts the No. 1 team in the nation or the 0-21 Toppers in the first game of the season at Commonwealth Stadium. As long as the Wildcats beat the Cardinals the week before, the place will be rowdy. Now WKU has to guard against the environment of an in-state game with lots of bragging rights on the line.

Players and coaches alike said Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium got the better of the Toppers during the first half last weekend. A big play early in the game would ensure that WKU controls its destiny to see blue more than it has to hear blue.